From ANSA:

Italy has recovered a precious statue from Roman poet Horace's famed Sabine farm .

The herm, or archaic head on a square block, was stolen from the farm near Rome in 1977 and turned up on the German antiquities market in the 1990s .

It was acquired by a German regional museum in 2000 for just 10,000 euros - a fraction of the price it would have fetched if its provenance had been known .

Experts recently identified it and informed Interpol and Italy's art cops, who took it off the museum's hands on Friday .

The herm takes its name from the Greek god Hermes but in this case it bears the head of a Maenad .

It will be back on display at Horace's beloved villa next month .

Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione said the return of the herm marked another victory in Italy's crackdown on art theft .

Also on Friday, the Carabinieri art police swept across Sicily and other parts of Italy to recover some 9,000 ancient gold coins, vases and bronze artefacts from the ancient Greek civilisation in Sicily, which had been put up for sale on eBay .

The items had already received bids from all over Europe and the Americas, the police said .

Italy has stepped up its fight to recover lost treasures and recently sealed a groundbreaking deal with New York's Metropolitan Museum to secure the return of some of its finest Ancient Greek pieces - in exchange for a future loan of equivalent value .

Italian authorities have also launched a landmark trial of a US antiquities curator, accused of knowingly buying looted artefacts for the Getty Museum in California .